ABH Maryland

How To Better Eliminate Racial Barriers For Mental Health Care


How To Better Eliminate Racial Barriers For Mental Health Care

  • History
  • Mental Health

Access to mental health care should be an equal right for all Americans, but many barriers still exist to receiving treatment — especially for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

About 1 in every 6 Americans will suffer from a mental health condition in their lifetime, but minority groups are more likely to experience risk factors that contribute to mental illness. However, the cultural stigma of mental healthcare coupled with discrimination, lack of insurance coverage, and mistrust of treatment are established barriers for the BIPOC community to receiving mental health treatment.

It’s hard to pinpoint just what a “disparity” is. It’s easily defined as an unfair difference, but it’s not always as easy to identify or prove a disparity in real life.

The Institute of Medicine defines disparities in health care as a difference in quality not due to differences in health care needs or preferences of the patient. In mental health care, disparities can be rooted in unequal access to good providers, differences in insurance coverage, as well as microaggressions and discrimination from clinic professionals in the field.

How Can Racial Disparities Be Reduced in Mental Health Care?

One key factor to racial disparities starts with the therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists themselves. With about 86% of American therapeutic professionals identifying as white, many other races and ethnicities feel unseen — not to mention less understood — in the mental health field.

Also, while many therapists offer quality care to their patients, there are only so many of them. Studies show that there are about 30 psychologists for every 100,000 people and just 15 psychiatrists for the same data set. Those in large metropolitan areas often have a higher average of available mental health professionals, but those in rural areas can see significantly lower options, with just 9 psychologists per 100,000 residents in rural American counties.

This lack of access can make the journey to find a counselor or psychologist as difficult as the treatment itself. Stack on the inability to afford mental health services without insurance — or finding a therapist that accepts your coverage — and it’s a daunting task just to begin treatment.

The American mental health industry has gone through a number of racist practices, including formulating inaccurate diagnoses for enslaved people to prove they deserved the harsh and inhumane treatment.

helping hands

Today, The BIPOC community has less access to mental health services than their white neighbors and are less likely to receive quality care. When they do, Black Americans are more likely to stop mental health services abruptly or refuse psychiatric medication — often because of the stigma around both treatment options.

Education is important for breaking any stigma around mental health care, but especially in the BIPOC communities. However, it’s a two-way street: Providers need more education about how to care for patients of color, and patients need education on the true aspects of mental illness and treatment options.

While mental health is a specialized field, screenings for anxiety and depression can also be done at a primary care physician’s office before seeking further treatment. One way to help remove the racial disparities in mental health is to offer more screenings across the healthcare system to refer those in need to the proper professionals.

Contact Us Today

The journey to quality mental health care doesn’t have to be long and tumultuous. If you’re looking for a racially diverse staff of mental health professionals, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.